Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baba Yaga, continued.

A while back I flirted with the idea of starting a Baba Yaga project that got to the level of doodles, then I was distracted by a stray butterfly or something and it fell by the wayside. Well it's a new year, and while there are plenty of distracting insects flitting around me, I've set myself to keep the story of Vasilisa The Beautiful (Baba Yaga's story) on my plate irregardless of airborne bugs.

I've been very inspired by artists who commit themselves to developing a giant body of work on, or simply committing themselves to, a single story. Mark Summers created a beautiful series on Moby Dick that, aside from the jaw-dropping finishes, has a completely full sketchbook of research to accompany it (check out a similar sketchbook on Abe Lincoln here). Justin Gerard and Sam Bosma have both explored Tolkein's The Hobbit in depth, with some truly gorgeous results. And, probably the most amazing example, Petar Mezeldzija's Legend of Steel Bashaw shows the very top tier of whats possible when you work for years on a project you truly care about.
     Anywho, now that I've compared myself to some badasses, I can comfortably underwhelm you with my own work. In a true eat-the-dessert-first fashion, I've been playing with Baba Yaga studies, knowing full well that, while she may be the most intriguing character in the story, she's definitely not the main one. Vasilisa will come later. First, I want to play with the gnarled knuckles, wilted skin and bad teeth of a Russian witch.
      I gathered reference from a bunch of places, but the absolute best resource I found for scary old ladies is's mugshot gallery. You can even narrow the search just "fogeys' to get a great gallery of disheveled grammas. Add a bit of meth-addict and you are 90% there.

Not your gramma's gramma.
Baba Yaga had to be menacingly inhuman but still female. I learned quickly that when you draw the extremely elderly, it's a fine line between the sexes. And, while the one dead eye look may be a bit cliché, I dig it.

Check back soon for some more wrinkly goodness.

Editor's Note: When finding links for Petar Meseldzija's work, I noticed that Steel Bashaw took 15 years to finish. See you all in 15 years, when this project wraps up.